STEPHENVILLE, Texas — They appear to be straight out of the future. They are, and the future is now.
Beginning Aug. 18 (first day of the fall semester), students, faculty and staff can order food from Tarleton State University’s participating on-campus restaurants and have it delivered by one of 10 semi-autonomous robots — Kiwibots — to some three dozen residential, academic and business office destinations.
Students and employees running late to a morning class or the office can use Sodexo’s new mobile app to order a doughnut and a java for delivery by the time they arrive. A quick lunch or an afternoon pick-me-up or a pizza for dinner? Same process, same quick delivery.
The service is available daily — even weekends — thanks to a partnership with Sodexo, Tarleton’s food service provider, and Kiwibot, a robotic sidewalk delivery service based in Miami, Fla. Plans are to expand Tarleton’s Kiwibot fleet to 30 later this fall.
“Automated food delivery adds an incredible dimension to an already great university experience,” said Tarleton President James Hurley. “To be the only school in Texas to have Kiwibots is a significant accomplishment. Now students can enjoy a panini or a fresh-baked pretzel without breaking up their study session.”
Kiwibots have a tracking system, reflective flags for visibility and sensors to hit the brakes if something blocks their path. Their display flashes emotive faces — or a message for help that comes with an alarm if they go off sidewalk or are mishandled.
Food arrives in an insulated container, similar to a cooler on wheels, and only recipients can open the compartment through the Sodexo app.
“We’re super excited to bring Kiwibots to the Tarleton family,” said Desiree Daniel, Sodexo Operations Manager at Tarleton. “What’s not to like about cute little robots who wink and bring you sweet treats?”
John Tarin, head of global operations at Kiwibot: “This is an amazing opportunity to showcase partnerships in technology and food service at Tarleton. Sodexo deserves a lot of credit for its investment in this unique delivery program across universities nationwide.”